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Best Backpack for Hunting – under $250

Western hunting often demands long hikes, especially when day hunting. For hunts where leaving camp well before light and arriving back after the sun has set, you may want to look for a backpack that could work as a daypack, carrying  essential,s plus enough to stay overnight if need be, and also had the capability to carry a first load of meat if an animal is harvested. You’ll want a pack that is lightweight, small, and has the ability to carry heavy loads.

There are many great backpack companies who cater specifically to hunters. I found specifically what I was looking for in three packs, all from different manufacturers. I would consider the three packs listed below to be the best in their price range for their ability to carry heavy loads without being over-sized for day to day hunts:

Badlands 2200

The badlands 2200 is a do it all pack. At around 2200 cubic inches, it fits the bill of being a large day pack with the ability to pack heavy loads. I’ve had the opportunity to harvest several mule deer with this pack in tow. One of which was in a nasty timber basin. I was grateful to have a pack that could take out a load on the first hike back to camp. Between two of us, we boned out the buck, threw the meat in the packs along with all of our gear and had the whole deer packed home in one relatively easy trip. I’ve done this on several occasions since.

The Badlands 2200 has a fold out wing design, which is nice and makes the pack quite expandable. Badlands shoulder straps have always been very comfortable, and one feature that I really like about this particular pack is a zipper on the back of the pack (rests against your back) allowing you to get into your gear by either swinging the pack around while still wearing the waist belt, or accessing items in your pack when you have a load strapped on the other side. The 2200 also has the capability to be carry a rifle or a bow.

The Badlands 2200 was re-designed in 2014 and is the most expensive of the listed packs (the new price is actually more than $250). The 2200 is a very popular pack among western hunters and has been reliable with a great warranty.

For more information about the Badlands 2200 CLICK HERE

Eberlestock X2

The Eberlestock X2 is one of my favorites because it’s compact size. It is the smallest of the packs featured on this article, coming in at 1800 cubic inches. Don’t let the size fool you, this pack is solid. The only reason I would hesitate to throw a elk quarter in this pack and hike for miles, is because I’d wear out long before the pack ever did.  It’s compactness is what really sets it apart from it’s counterparts.  It has a lightweight aluminum  frame, with great organization pockets for your spotting scope, water, calls, and other items you might need quick access to. Most Eberlestock packs are compatible with a rifle scabbard, and the X2 is no exception. Or, if you’re an archery hunter who likes carrying your bow on your pack, it has the ability to do that as well with the added “ButtBucket.”

As far as size, design, and functionality goes, this pack is one of my favorite and is high on my personal wish list.

For more information about the Eberlestock X2 CLICK HERE

Links for Purchase: (View these links as prices change often)
Eberlestock X2 Pack @ Amazon.com: $189
Eberlestock X2 Pack @ Cabelas.com: $189

Horn Hunter Main Beam

I’ve personally been using the Main Beam as my day pack for the past 3 or 4 seasons. While I’d love to have all of these packs and truly believe any of them would fit the bill perfectly — I chose the Horn Hunter for a couple of reasons. First, cost was a bit lower than the other two, and I was on a budget when choosing this pack. Second, I liked the design of this pack a lot. It has a wing type design, (smaller wings than the 2200) which allows me to access my spotter, tripod, bugle or any somewhat larger item quickly, without a zipper — while still protecting it from getting beat up as I hike. The Main Beam also has over 20 different storage pockets, so I can keep all of my gear organized. It has a fold out orange meat carrier that tucks away in a pocket on the bottom of the bag which is great for packing out a cape and antlers or stuffing your extra clothing, sleeping bag, or whatever else you may be carrying.

The Main beam is listed at 2800 cubic inches, but when carrying it alongside the badlands 2200, it actually  seems a bit smaller. It has more straps for compressing loads than either of the other packs listed in this article, which may be why. Regardless, the pack feels much smaller than the advertised size.

I’ve used my Main beam to pack out a lot of critters over the past few years and have been able to depend on this pack in every situation I’ve been in. I never really weigh my packs when loaded, but it has carried everything I could ever fit in it and has been a great pack for my needs.

For more information about the Horn Hunter “Main Beam,” CLICK HERE

Links for Purchase: (View these links as prices change often)
Horn Hunter “Main Beam” @ Amazon.com: $147 – $179 (price varies)

If you’re looking for the best packs for the DIY hunter for under $250 and are wanting the ability to hunt light and still be able to carry out a heavy load, then take a closer look at the Badlands “2200,” the Eberlestock “X2”, and the Horn Hunter “Main beam.” I highly recommend all of them – each company has fantastic warranties, and they are all durable, dependable, and made especially for hunters.

Other packs you might want to check out that are under $250 include the Badlands Diablo, Eberlestock X1, and the Tenzing TZ 2200.

A few packs to check out that cost more than $250: NEW Eberlestock War Hammer, Horn Hunter Full Curl System, Horn Hunter Curl ComboBadlands Sacrifice, Eberlestock Just One (J34), Mystery Ranch Crew Cab, NEW Mystery Ranch Metcalf.

2012 Photo Contest

It’s that time of year again. We’re excited to get our annual photo contest rolling again this year. This year’s prizes will be bigger than ever. A special thanks to our sponsors: Nielson Productions Taxidermy, Wac’em Broadheads, and Quick Draw Decals.

Last year we had a great contest was a great success, so we’re ramping things up a bit this year. We have some great prizes to give away like Wac’em broadheads from Wac’em Archery Products, some awesome decals from Quick Draw Decals, and a free shoulder mount from NpTaxidermy.com! We’re adding more prizes over the next few weeks, so keep checking back.

In the meantime, we’d appreciate you sharing our contest with your buddies, and if you have some photos to share — send them in!

For more information about our contest, entry info, and contest details visit our Contest Page.

Here’s a few photos from previous contests. Good luck this season!

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2011 Photo Contest Winners

[singlepic id=225 w=320 h=240 float=right]Thanks to two of our great sponsors (Nielson Productions Taxidermy and Golden Valley Meat Snacks) our contest for 2011 was a huge success. We had a lot of great entries — here are the winners: (The winners were chosen by a panel of judges in early February):

Travis long went home with the grand prize – a free shoulder mount from NP Taxidermy, some jerky, and some huntaddicts swag. We felt this photo really portrayed the DIY hunter as many of us have been in similar situations. Thanks Travis! (Photo on right)

Initially we were only going to pick a couple of runner ups, but because we had so many great entries we picked six. Each of our runner ups get some Golden Valley Meat Snacks Jerky and HuntAddicts premium window decals. Thanks for all of your entries. Almost every judge commented on how difficult it was to judge this contest.

Keep in mind that we are doing this again for 2012. Nielson Productions Taxidermy is gracious enough to donate another mount, and we’ll be adding a few additional prizes this year as well! So keep your cameras handy this season. Happy Hunting!

Here are all of the winning photos:
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Application Time 2012

Post season hunting blues can be cured — by preparing for next season. Here is a tentative application deadline schedule for the Western States. If your state isn’t included email me or comment on this post and I will add it. What are you applying for?

Coming up: Wyoming Non-resident elk applications need to be in by the end of JANUARY!  February has a few application deadlines: Arizona Elk and Antelope (pronghorn), New Mexico Oryx, and Wyoming Moose, Sheep, and Mtn. Goat.

Good Luck in the Draws!

State Website Application Deadline
Arizona www.azdfg.com Elk, Pronghorn – FEBRUARY
Deer, Sheep – JUNE
Buffalo – OCTOBER
California dfg.ca.gov/hunting/ JUNE
Colorado wildlife.state.co.us APRIL
Idaho Fishgame.idaho.gov Sheep, Moose, Goat – APRIL
Elk, Deer, Pronghorn — JUNE
Montana Fwp.mt.gov Deer, Elk – MARCH
Sheep, Moose, Goat – MAY
Special Deer, Elk, Pronghorn — JUNE
Nevada Ndow.org APRIL
New Mexico Wildlife.state.nm.us Oryx – FEBRUARY
Other Species – April
Oregon Drw.state.or.us MAY
Utah Wildlife.utah.gov MARCH
Washington Wdfw.wa.gov MAY
Wyoming Gf.state.wy.us Elk – JANUARY
Moose, Sheep, Goat – FEBRUARY
Deer, Pronghorn – MARCH

The one and only

This year has been a hectic one. I have only donned the camo twice and both times were for evening  jaunts with a good friend looking for a poor little buck in Northern Utah. No bucks were seen on either of these occasions. Typically by this time of year I have put in 8-10 days of hard hunting with my bow chasing bucks or bulls, or whatever.

But I am looking forward to next week – Utah’s General Muzzleloader season. The only hunt I have planned for this fall is the Utah general deer hunt.  I plan on spending the better part of next week chasing bucks in the Southeast region. This will be my third year hunting this particular area as part of the dedicated hunter program and have harvested one deer…and missed one. The first deer was taken 2 years ago. I hadn’t taken a mule deer buck in several years, and was getting a little bit frustrated finding anything worth shooting in the Cache Valley area. While on a scouting trip for a friend’s elk hunt, I managed to run into about 6 bucks in a high mountain meadow. While none of these bucks were monsters, one was a pretty 27 inch four point, who stood facing me at 60 yards while a few of his comrades busted me from fewer than ten. That winter I changed my region and spent the next year bow hunting every weekend, and finally filled my tag on the third day of the muzzleloader season with a pretty little basket racked buck. Having not taken a buck in several years, I had been holding out for a 4 point, and when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. The next morning I lent my gun to my brother and he managed to take a big three point, his biggest buck to date.

Last year was much like the previous. The bow hunt was full of close calls and near misses. I never launched an arrow, but came very close nearly every day. The muzzleloader hunt rolled around, and I did not find a buck that I wanted to fill my tag with. A good friend of mine was hunting with me and we tried our best to get him his first buck. After a few exciting stalks, we were outsmarted and the deer got away, as did we, with not much more than a few stories to show for it. Ben (brother) had better luck. He jumped a 24 inch 4 point from its bed and somehow stuck an arrow through his lungs before he got away. The buck died within 100 yards of his big three point from the year before. Now they hang together on his wall, perhaps they “hung” together the previous year while still alive.

The rifle hunt got a little bit interesting. I missed a good buck opening morning. I’m not sure how, it happened really fast, and I think I must have shot over him as the shot angle was steeper than I thought. Another good friend, who had never killed a buck either, was along with me and we did manage to harvest a young 3×4. He was all grins as he missed the buck once, but we found him bedded a few minutes later, where he made up for past mistakes and put a good shot as the buck stood to run. A first buck is always a good buck!

I came home after that hunt, a little bit disappointed that I had missed a good buck, but in a way excited for the upcoming years, as I could still harvest bucks the next 2 years.

So it brings us to this year. My wife and I were blessed to welcome our first little hunting buddy into the world in early August. He has kept us both very busy and I have not had the time to get away to hunt yet. So I’m looking foward to next week, hoping I can make good on two years worth of anticipation and take a good buck. I’m not expecting to harvest a monster, although I’ve heard rumors of a few good bucks running around. I would be tickled to take a nice deer, somewhere in the 150-160 class. I think it’s very doable and will report back in a little over a week.

Until then, happy hunting to all you Hunt Addicts. I hope you have a safe and successful season.

BTW, here is a picture that Steve sent me from Wyoming. He’s had a successful season. I’ll post up the story when I get back. In the meantime…keep those pictures coming guys!